I hazard a guess the first time any Bristolian had ever seen the Haka was on Saturday the 29 December 1917. The Haka is synonymous as a precursor to rugby matches involving the New Zealand All Blacks and also by other nations from the southern Pacific. The entertainment, held at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, was part of the Christmas festivities provided for the war wounded soldiers being cared for at Bristol hospitals. The Lord and Lady Mayoress and the Bishop of Bristol were among the dignitaries who attended.
The event was trailed months in advance as “20 Maoris in full war paint”, and come the great day:
……On Saturday afternoon, the Maori warriors from the New Zealand Command Depot Codford in full native costume gave a number of their quaint old songs or hakas and were most cordially received.
Every one of the men had been at the front and the Komata Haka* with which the troupe concluded is that used by many tribes on the eve of battle. The Maoris subsequently gave another performance at Southmead Hospital.”
This was amalgamated from a trailer, 14 May 1917 and two (much longer) columns in the Western Daily Press of 29 December 1917 and 1 January 1918. In view of the uniqueness of the event one could have hoped for less of the waffle from the nobs and a bit more descriptive colour. Still, it’s there, can’t argue with that, and better than nothing.
*It should be Ka Mate, as above
GOOD LUCK TO BOTH NEW ZEALAND AND SOUTH AFRICA IN THE RUBGY WORLD CUP FINAL THIS EVENING!
Merrett, Joseph Jenner, 1816-1854. – Australian National Library, URL Reference No.nla.pic-an2948236